Five amazing benefits
If you’re carving out pumpkin lanterns this Halloween you will have plenty of pumpkin to feast on. Whether you make it into soups, bake it into cakes, add it to stews, blend it into smoothies or eat the seeds - there are some great health benefits of this seasonal squash:
1. A rich source of antioxidants
Like most orange fruit and veg, pumpkin is high in beta-carotene – a powerful antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body helping to fight aging free-radicals and give the immune system a boost. Pumpkin also contains antioxidant vitamins C and E, which support the skin and immune system, as well as lutein which is crucial for healthy eyes.
2. High fibre, low calorie
With 1 cup of pumpkin flesh containing up to 5g of fibre it makes a useful contribution to your daily intake. Fibre is essential for keeping the digestive system functioning correctly and research shows high fibre intake is correlated to a lower risk of bowel cancer. High fibre foods also give a feeling of fullness without piling on the calories - great for those trying to lose a few pounds.
3. Fights inflammation
Both the seeds and flesh have anti-inflammatory properties. The seeds contain essential fatty acids while the flesh is extremely rich in anti-inflammatory carotenoids. Of particular note is the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin, which has been studied in relation to its protective effects against inflammatory arthritis.
4. Pumpkin seeds could help you sleep
The seeds are an excellent source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is involved in production of serotonin within the body. Serotonin helps to ease anxiety and promotes better quality sleep. Try a mix of pumpkin and sunflower seeds as an after dinner snack, to avoid late-night huger and help you sleep more peacefully.
5. Pumpkin seed oil is good for the heart
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of healthy fats, including omega 3, which is important for the health of the skin, immune system, brain and cardiovascular system. Research has shown that pumpkin seed oil in particular lowers the blood pressure and is protective to the heart. Dry the seeds and eat raw on salads or yogurt, to avoid damaging the delicate essential fats.